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It’s surprisingly easy to install Android apps and games from outside the Google Play Store. This is called “sideloading,” and it’s possible on any Android device. There are some things you should know before getting started.

A Warning: Why Sideloading Is Disabled by Default

Before we get started, let’s talk about why sideloading is disabled by default. The Google Play Store has security protocols to make sure the apps and games you download are safe. While not perfect, it’s a pretty decent system.

When you sideload an app or game from outside of the Play Store you are bypassing some of those protocols. Google Play Protect can detect some malware and other issues with sideloaded apps, but it’s still not as secure as downloading from the official store.

This is why it’s very important to make sure you get apps and games from trusted sources if you’re going to go outside the Play Store. APK Mirror is our go-to source for sideloading and we highly recommend you use it, too. You’ll find two types of files on APK Mirror—APKs and APK Bundles—we’ll show you how to use both.

RELATED: What is Google Play Protect and How Does it Keep Android Secure?

How to Install APK on Android

First, you’ll download the APK that you want to install. If you’re using a browser, you’ll typically see an option to “Open” it after downloading. In other cases, you might open it from the “Downloads” folder in the file manager.

Open the APK file.

A pop-up message will inform you that you need to allow the app to “install unknown apps” before you can install the APK. Tap “Settings” to be taken there.

Tap "settings."

Toggle the switch on to “Allow From This Source.” You will need to do this for any app you use to install APKs.

Turn on "Allow from this source."

Now you can tap “Install” on the next pop-up to finish installing the APK.

Tap "Install."

That’s it! The app can be found in your app drawer along with all the other apps on your device.

RELATED: How to Sideload Apps on Google TV

How to Install APK Bundles on Android

If you use APK Mirror, you will probably run into apps that are marked as “Bundle.” These are App Bundles created for APK Mirror. They can’t be installed in the same way as APKs. The good news is you can use APK Mirror’s official app for installing them.

First, download the APK Bundle just like you would a regular APK. Open the APKMirror Installer app and tap “Browse Files.”

Tap "Browse Files."

Find the APK Bundle you just downloaded and select it.

Select the APK Bundle.

Tap “Install Package.”

Tap "Install Package."

Select “Install App” to confirm.

Tap "Install App."

You’ll need to give APKMirror Installer permission to install unknown apps.

Select "Allow from this source."

And now you can tap “Install” to finish installing the APK Bundle.

Tap "Install."

That’s it! The end result is exactly the same as installing an APK, it simply requires a different process. Now you know how to get apps and games from outside the Play Store, just be sure to make safe choices.

RELATED: What Is an Android App Bundle (AAB)?

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as a News Editor at XDA Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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